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United Airlines

United Introduces Basic Economy, Adjusts Aircraft Orders

United Introduces Basic Economy, Adjusts Aircraft Orders
Joe Cortez

Moves come to make United the best carrier “for employees, customers and investors.”

Flyers loyal to United Airlines now have a new choice when it comes to their fare options – albeit without earning elite qualifying miles, lifetime elite miles, or qualifying for upgrades. In a press release, the Chicago-based airline announced the launch of Basic Economy fares on select routes across the United States, as part of a larger move to make company stock more appealing.

“As we approach the new year, our operations are running well, our employees are more energized than ever, and we are ready to unlock United’s full potential,” Oscar Munoz, chief executive officer of United, said in a statement. “We now have the strategy and organization in place to be the best airline in the world – for employees, customers and investors.”

Under the Basic Economy fare, passengers can access a lower fare for travel aboard the airline. However, the lesser price comes with only one checked bag allowed, no seat selections and boarding with the last group. In addition, flyers purchasing Basic Economy fares acknowledge that sitting with their party is not guaranteed.

While some situations are waived for elite flyers, elite status earning opportunities are not waived for anyone aboard Basic Economy. Those who opt for this fare class are not granted elite qualifying miles, nor does their fare count towards the elite qualifying dollar requirement or lifetime miles flown. Finally, the fare is not compatible with other fares, meaning interline travel across Star Alliance on Basic Economy fares are not permitted. The airline claims the new fare class allows flyers to have more control over their flight experience.

“Customers have told us that they want more choice and Basic Economy delivers just that,” Julia Haywood, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at United, said in a statement. “By offering low fares while also offering the experience of traveling on our outstanding network, with a variety of onboard amenities and great customer service, we are giving our customers an additional travel option from what United offers today.”

Along with the creation of Basic Economy, United announced a shift in their current aircraft order book. The carrier will now take delivery of four 737-800 aircraft in 2017, with their remaining 737 orders upgraded to the 737-MAX. The airline will also purchase 24 Embraer 175 aircraft, which will then be leased to smaller carriers operating as United Express.

[Photo: Jim and Christiana Herbert]

View Comments (3)


  1. skidooman

    November 16, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    Basically bastardizing the brand even more. Instead of going up with a true premium economy, United goes downmarket with cheap prices, cheap conditions, etc.

    Will go great with the new 10-across cattle transport 777 they are coming up with.

    Savings? Nope. They will simply devalue the value of the cheapest tickets. No money will be lost.

    United aspires to be a bigger Spirit and RyanAir it seems.

  2. Kaleb Sipes

    November 16, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    United did this in the late 90s with the creation of TED. That didn’t work so good, why do they think this will work? If you want that kind of airline, then fly it. I agree United’s fares could be a little more competitive-but they aren’t the worst fares out there. I just don’t get why they would want to do this. Yes you might get a cheap fare, but there are no benefits that come with it. Why sell yourself so cheaply?

  3. bsd107

    December 3, 2016 at 5:31 am

    “Moves come to make United the best carrier “for employees, customers and investors.””

    Notice that customers are not first….

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